Why confirmation?

On my post about confirmation (amongst other things), Matthew asked about my reasons for getting confirmed given my Baptist / FIEC background.

The short answer really is – there’s not actually a spiritual reason! I feel like over the past few months God has been pushing me towards ministry. Possibly ministry in the Anglican church, even. As such, I think that if in the future I did train to become an Anglican clergyman, I think me not being confirmed would present an issue for some people…

I do, of course, already count my baptism as a visible acknowledgement of my faith – which confirmation is also supposed to be – but simply as a matter of church order I thought confirmation would be a wise move on my part.

However, in terms of my theological position on infant baptism / confirmation… well although I was brought up and baptised (not as an infant) in an FIEC church, I do think there is some merit to the Anglican way of doing things. I heard a talk by Andy Saville at Fordham called “Why I am not… a Baptist” (it was part of a series. It’s not nearly as controversial as it sounds, and is available on the Fordham website – which is how I listened to it). Basically, the talk was about infant baptism – the arguments for and against it, whether it’s justifiable from the Bible and church tradition.

It does indeed seem that there is a good case to be made for infant baptism. It’s probably got a bad name because it has been abused – a lot of parents seem to want to have their children baptised but then don’t ever come back to church! But that doesn’t mean it’s a reason not to do it in proper circumstances.

And confirmation is really just a follow on from Baptism, allowing someone to confirm that they want to be part of the Christian faith as well as the church (and God!) confirming their acceptance into the church and wider Christian family. I love the actual confirmation part of the service, where the bishop presiding over the ceremony says “God has called you by name and made you his own”.

Finally, I should make clear that this is not at all a criticism of nonconformist churches! I still look back at my baptism and think that was an important day for me, that is when I publicly declared my Christian faith. I just wanted to say that I think confirmation is no bad thing for those who have grown up in the Anglican tradition, provided that people don’t see the act as more important than the state of the heart.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Why confirmation?

  1. Thanks for sharing that, Phill. I shall have to listen to that sermon at some point, definitely a topic I’m interested in.

    As for your confirmation, and again potentially acting as Devil’s Advocate here, you say that people might not be comfortable with a minister who isn’t confirmed, but don’t you think they might be less comfortable knowing that you only got confirmed because of what other people thought rather than because you actually believed in it? Surely a meaningful adult baptism is worth more in the Kingdom than a half-hearted confirmation? Regardless of which particular denomination you ally yourself to primarily, passion and clarity of belief must go hand in hand if you are to be taken seriously as a teacher – if you didn’t feel ‘called’ to be confirmed and didn’t properly consider what it meant in the context of your previous baptism, is your confirmation really valid?

    Sorry, that sounds a bit harsh on re-reading. Don’t take it personally Phill, I just know from experience that you do think about these sort of things and do lots of studying, and in that sense perhaps your readers might understand more fully if you explained a little more! Or, if you think I’m out of line, just delete this comment and we’ll go and have coffee… 😉

  2. Hi Matthew, no not at all – no offence taken 🙂 What makes you think that I *don’t* believe in confirmation? The only reason I haven’t been confirmed is that I didn’t grow up in the Anglican tradition. Nothing wrong with that at all. But by getting confirmed, I am affirming that I do support the tradition.

    Also, there is the whole thing about not being a stumbling block to people – if my not being confirmed is potentially a stumbling block, surely it’s worth doing!

    These are my thoughts at the moment anyway.

    Phill

  3. Thanks Phill! I figured you probably *did* agree with confirmation, as I know you’re not the sort of person to do this sort of thing without fully committing to it and knowing what you’re getting into, it was just good to hear your explanation. I understand where you’re coming from – I often hear about people being confirmed as a teenager and then going through adult baptism later, so I suppose it can just as easily work the other way round!

    I still might pick your brains on a couple of points, but I’ll leave that for face-to-face discussion rather than overloading your blog with it all! After all, the Baptist-Anglican relationship is something I’m very much interested in.

  4. Or, as Anne-Marie would probably say, ‘Baplican’!

    I think there are one or two differences between my decision and someone who chooses to get baptised as an adult after having been confirmed – but I guess we can talk about that in person 🙂

  5. <>

    Sounds like it could be a ‘fun’ conversation and I’m sure I would find something in it to disagree on, just on account of not being an Anglican. 😉

    You might have gathered, I’m back at work, bored and flicking through various blogs to see what I’ve missed. What fun! 🙂

  6. It does indeed sound like a thrilling conversation, and perhaps you will be a party to it if you’re round at our party (did you see what I did there?!) on Wednesday night 🙂

    Ah, how much fun we shall have…

  7. I think that infant baptism is appalling. As with so many other decisions in life, people should be allowed to make their own informed choices as to which religion, if any, they choose to be a part of.

    Like you said, Phill, "baptism [is] a visible acknowledgement of … faith". The mind boggles as to how a baby can do this!

  8. Well, I think infant baptism indicates the acceptance of the baby by the church family and the willingness of the parents to bring him or her up in the Christian tradition (this is actually part of the infant baptism service, at least it is at Fordham).

  9. I don’t recall what it is in the RC church, what with me only having been a baby at the time 😉

    If that’s what it is, though, shouldn’t it be some sort of service for the parents and called something else, rather than a baptism?

Comments are closed.